Sunday, April 15, 2018
A Review That Meant a Lot
Unfortunately, having to shutter the blog right when my third book was published initially caused a huge "sound of crickets" but NPR (WNIJ, WNIU) picked it up one of four Spring "Must Read" books interviewing me on the air and it took off. Still, getting some reviews from my regular readers, like the one below, meant a lot and still does.
The photo above - the barn I would pass on the way to each Indy blog meet. I always wanted to take photos of it but didn't want to trespass until one day there was someone there I could ask, as they were putting up a sign to sell that piece of land and they welcomed me to take them. The rail spike on the cover from Small Town Roads was part of its door and I loved the photo.
L.B. Johnson's novel is about self-discovery in a small town. What really shines is less the storyline than the psychological exploration of the heroine. That exploration (and her lush writing style) makes the characters come to life. Indeed, it makes us consider our own lives - as someone who has a family member struggling with dementia, this bit about the heroine's mother and her struggle with Alzheimer's jumped at me:
"Initially, she had little moments of forgetfulness, like any person of her age, but she was such a bundle of energy, still active in church and volunteering, taking dance classes, working in the garden. Then one morning, out of the blue, she came into the kitchen and sat down, looking at me and I realized she did not have a clue as to who I was. What struck me was not that but the look on her face as she realized this, realized she should know."
Johnson's ability to make you stop reading and think about your own life is remarkable and is spread throughout the book. This about a rescue dog is one of a million similar gems:
"On my couch is the form of a little black dog. I do not know why Clyde was a stray. He responds with great plaintiff urgency to the sound of small children laughing, looking around for them as to say "my kids, my kids" only to get this look of pure sadness when he sees they are strangers. The first time I witnessed it, I cried."
Johnson tells you a story not by telling it, but by showing you these scenes, one after another. I found it a slow book to read because I would suddenly snap back from where I had been mentally wandering, remembering a time when I too had had an experience like what was being described.
This book asks big questions: What is it to be human? What is it to live the Good Life? What is it to leave that Good Life?
I cannot recommend this book more highly